Life is beautiful as long as it flows in a direction that we have anticipated. But when plans go awry and life takes a turn which is very different from what we have visualized, it becomes difficult to accept the ‘new’ reality with gusto. As a child, I was very rigid about the way things should be. If I wanted to win a competition or ace an exam and if the outcome was not in my favor, I would crib, sulk, and complain about it to Mom. Like all mothers, she wanted me to deal with life’s curveballs with spunk, optimism and strength, so she told me the story of Old Tirumala. Even today, this story makes it easy to be positive in life no matter the size of the disappointment and that’s why I want to share this story with you guys. You may have heard it before, if yes then it will refresh your memory and if not, then I’m sure you will enjoy it 🙂
Tirumala was the old and wise minister of King Vikram Singh. The King was hotheaded, unforgiving and abhorred mistakes. He hosted a grand function at his palace to celebrate his birthday and while he stood next to a door, talking to eminent delegates and other Kings, a strong gust of wind pushed the door shut. As a result the King’s ring finger was mangled when it came between the door hinges.
The finger had to be eviscerated leaving the King in immense pain. Tirumala tried to placate the King by saying- My lord, everything happens for our own good.” On hearing this, the King was enraged and ordered Tirumala to be locked in the dungeons.
“Now tell me how your imprisonment is for your own good,” the King roared in anger.
“I might not know now, but I am certain that my imprisonment is for my own good,” said Tirumala with a tranquil expression on his face.
After a week of convalescing, the King went to hunt in the forest but he was ambushed by a tribe of cannibals.
They decided to offer the King as a sacrifice and please their Demon God. One of the tribal men noticed that the King’s ring finger was missing. A disfigured man was deemed to be unfit to be presented as an offering to God and hence instead of him, his minister was killed. The King was spared and the words of Tirumala flashed in his mind.
He released Tirumala and asked him how going to jail had benefitted him and Tirumala replied that if he was not imprisoned, he too would have accompanied the King for the hunting expedition and would have been sacrificed being the senior most and eminent minister. He thanked the King for imprisoning him and the King rewarded Tirumala as he was pleased by his wit and wise words.
Just like Tirumala’s predicament seemed lamentable before the entire story unfurled, similarly when I was in the 9th grade, I found it hard to believe that what had happened to me was for my own good.
The elections were round the corner and I had dreamt of being the Head Girl and having my name etched on the wooden board in the grand school hall since the fourth grade. I was confident that I would be voted Head girl since my juniors and seniors knew me because of the numerous debates, drama, dance, elocution competitions and academic laurels that I had won over the past years.
When the big day arrived, I was in for a rude shock. Short of a few votes, I was elected as Vice Head girl. I felt despondent and dejected, but I had no choice other than accepting my appointed post with as much dignity as I could muster.
After the first few weeks I realized that indeed everything had happened for my own good. I too was given the same respect as the Head girl. I got to stand beside my Principal at the pedestal, every day for the morning prayers along with the head girl. I also got to do something that I had hankered for since fifth grade: I read the thought for the day. With increasing academic pressure, I was utterly grateful that I was spared from the arduous task of preparing countless speeches which the Head girl was not spared from doing.
The head girl was always under pressure to be at her best. Not that the rest of the office bearers were spared, but the head girl was always held more responsible for setting an example for others. She was expected to be the ideal student; as a result she was always under immense scrutiny.
The worst would be the annual sports day, when according to tradition the Head girl’s father would be the chief guest. Had I been the head girl…. I shudder to think that my father would be standing at the podium. I would surely cringe with embarrassment if Dad barely managed to sputter audible words while addressing the entire school because Dad has poor public speaking skills. (Sorry dad: p)
Today when I look back, I realize I had everything I wanted as a Vice Head girl too, minus the stifling speeches and tremendous pressure to be at my best behavior at all times. At the end it all worked out in my favor.
All we need is a fresh perspective to see the good in the bad and believe in what Tirumala said- ‘Everything happens for our own good!’